If you want to build more muscle, get leaner and of course, move better, mobility and flexibility training is essential.
What is mobility?
Mobility is the joint’s ability to move fluidly with stability through a certain range of movement. The more mobility you have, the better you will move when performing different movements. ‘Mobilising’ should refer to getting a joint moving better, rather than a muscle, as our joints hold up to 50% of our flexibility. You can see this for yourself with the following test:
- Test the range of movement of your forefinger by pulling the finger back.
- Pull the finger joint apart for 5 seconds.
- Re test the range of motion in the finger.
Hopefully you notice how by ‘spacing’ the joints in your finger you were able to increase the range of motion.
What is flexibility?
Flexibility refers to the muscle’s ability to lengthen. This could be during static movements or dynamic movements. The more flexible someone is, the easier it is for their muscles to lengthen. Some people may not be able to get a lot of range from a static stretch but under dynamic forces they might have good movement. For example, touching the toes versus swinging the leg up towards the head when standing. It’s important to train a bit of both but dynamic stretching will have better carry over to every day life and training.
How do they impact on range of motion?
Of course, both of these factors will affect your range of motion. If your joints have very little mobility, then it doesn’t matter how flexible your muscle is because the joint will prevent the movement. An example of this would be if the ankle doesn’t flex properly when squatting, not allowing the knee to travel forwards.
Knowing this information will help you separate mobility specific work from flexibility specific work. The first will target the joint and the second targets the muscle. Both may require additional manual therapy to address long term issues such as scarring and knotting of the fascial tissues.
Obviously doing mobility and flexibility work will help you move better which can help you feel better, perform daily tasks with more ease and reduce your chance of injury. The more movement your body has the ability to perform, the less injuries you are likely to have.
The importance of stability
If you gain range of motion from manual therapy, stretching, mobility work or any other method, you MUST be able to stabilise in that range of motion. This is why we are so persistent about our personal training clients using full range of motion in every single lift they perform. Not only will this provide you with a weighted, dynamic stretch which will increase your range of motion, it also ensures your body knows how to be strong in that full range of motion too. Seeing people in big commercials gyms perform partial squats is cringe worthy. But it’s also dangerous and a recipe for injury. Range of motion without stability is probably worse than no range of motion in the first place.
How does this benefit you?
When looking to get lean, the more range you have, the more muscle tissue you can recruit and the greater the metabolic demand will be for each exercise. Anyone who has done a full range squat will vouch for this! In addition, mobility and flexibility work will help get the blood flowing around the body, leading to faster muscle repair, more and harder training sessions and ultimately better results. Of course, if you get injured less you can also train more, more consistently and get to your goals faster. Are you one of those people who feels like they are constantly working around injuries? Maybe it’s time to add a bit more mobility and flexibility work.
How can we help?
If you would like extra help addressing any flexibility or mobility issues, get in touch and speak to one of our personal trainers. We’re happy to help!